Qld hospital probe to be expanded: chair

An inquiry into allegations of malpractice will be expanded to examine complaints prior to 2020.
An inquiry into allegations of malpractice will be expanded to examine complaints prior to 2020.

An inquiry into allegations of malpractice at Queensland's Caboolture Hospital will be expanded to examine complaints prior to 2020.

The review was ordered after media reports and the opposition Liberal National Party aired claims of preventable deaths, surgical negligence, and a culture of bullying at the hospital north of Brisbane.

Metro North Hospital and Health Service chair Jim McGowan said the inquiry was originally limited to complaints about surgical care from 2020 onwards.

But he now says it will hear any complaints after the LNP said the original time frame stipulations would lock out half of the complainants the party was aware of.

"The review panel has agreed that it will take concerns from people who have had, in their view, adverse reactions to treatment prior to that time," he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

"Probably the best way to do it is through the hotline, and that those matters will be investigated and when necessary considered within the context of the review."

A hotline set up to take complaints has received at least 74 calls so far.

Mr McGowan's shift in messaging came after some complainants said they'd be locked out of the review under the original terms of reference.

One of them was school teacher Olivia Keating, who went to the hospital for a caesarean operation in 2018 and emerged with part of her bowel sewn into the wall of her abdomen.

She has endured 11 operations to fix a mistake that at times threatened her life and left her with "a football of organs in my groin, that stick outside of my body".

Ms Keating has two more surgeries ahead of her and is desperate for some formal acknowledgement of what she has endured.

"I just want to be acknowledged. How many other people like me are there? My first reaction was, 'what are they so afraid of,'" Ms Keating told reporters through tears on Monday.

Mr McGowan said the situation at the hospital "is not as we would want it" and he wanted to ensure all incidents were properly investigated with action taken where appropriate.

He said he was particularly sympathetic to complainants like Ms Keating, whose story he said he hadn't heard.

"My heart goes out for her and other people who feel aggrieved by this but, you know, we're very big hospital service, and very large hospitals, and clearly there are things which go wrong.

"And there are people who are disappointed in the service, and our job is to actually investigate those things properly, and address them where we can, and certainly make sure that procedures are put in place to prevent that from happening.

"That's my absolute commitment that I make in this regard."

Mr McGowan said he intended to release the inquiry's final report in full, but the names of individuals would be redacted.

He also said that any verified claims of negligence would be referred to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for further investigation.

Opposition leader David Crisafulli said the change of heart was welcome, but the LNP would continue to push for public hearings so patients could share their stories in person.

He also urged staff who've worked at the Caboolture Hospital to come forward.

"We have sought and got a guarantee that there'll be whistleblower protections," he said on Wednesday.

"If there is a Dr Death operating there, we owe it to Queenslanders that a broken system is repaired. And we won't stop until it is."

Australian Associated Press